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Omnibus spending bill ensures renewed federal support for afterschool, summer learning

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Omnibus spending bill ensures renewed federal support for afterschool, summer learning

With only a few days before the Continuing Resolution funding the federal government expires on Wednesday, House and Senate appropriators unveiled the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014) Omnibus Appropriations bill last night. For the more than 8 million young people and their families that rely on afterschool and summer learning programs, the proposed Omnibus represents a step in the right direction. Most importantly, the majority of the FY2013 sequester cut to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is restored, and no language was included allowing the diversion of afterschool funds to other purposes. In addition, there are slight increases in other key funding streams that support afterschool programs. 

Congress plans to pass an additional three day Continuing Resolution to allow time to consider and pass the FY2014 Omnibus bill. The Omnibus is a compromise between House and Senate appropriations committees and was made possible as a result of the budget deal struck between House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs last month, funding the government at $1 trillion through the end of September. Both the House and Senate must pass the Omnibus bill and the president must sign it before it becomes law.

With regard to the 21st CCLC initiative—the only federal funding stream dedicated to school and community partnerships that provide afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs to more than 1.1 million young people—funding increased by almost $60 million over the post-sequester FY2013 level to a new level of $1.149 billion for the remainder of FY2014. The funding increase means almost 60,000 additional children will have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs that inspire learning, keep young people safe and help working families. While bill language seeking to alter the purpose of 21st CCLC and potentially diverting funds away from afterschool programs had been included in the Senate Labor, HHS, Education spending bill, that language was not included in the final Omnibus bill. Report language in the bill directs the Department of Education to promote strong school-community partnerships within 21st CCLC and evaluate the impact of ESEA waivers on 21st CCLC in the states that received them.

While there remains work to do around strengthening 21st CCLC and providing access to quality afterschool programs for the 18 million young people who lack access to programs but would participate if one were available, the Omnibus represents a strong step in the right direction for children and families and the afterschool programs on which they rely. More than a decade of research and evaluation on afterschool and summer learning programs has shown important gains for children, not only in terms of academic achievement but also in terms of safety, discipline, attendance and avoidance of risky behaviors. In addition, researchers have found that afterschool programs encourage increased parental involvement, an important building block for student success.

The progress in restoring most of the past funding cuts is a direct result of the thousands of parents, children and other afterschool advocates who made their voices heard over the past six months about the need for federal support of afterschool programs; and the incredibly strong champions for afterschool and summer learning programs in Congress, both on and off the appropriations committees, including Mikulski (D-MD), Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Murkowski (R-AK), Reid (D-NV), Murray (D-WA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Reed (D-RI), Manchin (D-WV), Begich (D-AK) and Udall (D-NM); and Reps. DeLauro (D-CT), Kingston (R-GA), Rogers (D-KY), Lowey (D-NY), Kildee (D-MI) and McCarthy (R-CA).  

Additional federal funding in the Omnibus that supports afterschool, before-school and summer learning includes:

  • Title I - The bill provides $14.4 billion for Title I funding. These funds help schools, particularly those with concentrations of economically disadvantaged students, meet high academic achievement standards. School-based afterschool and summer learning programs can be funded through Title I. This increase of $625 million will support services to an estimated 1 million additional students. Roughly 90 percent of the nation’s school districts receive Title I funding.
  • Safe Schools - The bill includes $140 million, an increase of $29 million, for activities that support safe school environments. Funds may be used to develop or upgrade emergency management plans, create positive school climates and address issues of pervasive violence in some of our communities. Safe, positive school environments can help reduce unhealthy student behavior, increase academic achievement and counter the effects that violence can have on students.
  • TRIO Programs – The bill provides $838 million, an increase of $42 million, to help low-income and first generation college students plan, prepare for, and succeed in college through the TRIO programs.
  • GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) – The bill funds Gear Up at approximately $203 million, an increase of $15 million over last year.
  • Full Service Community Schools – The bill includes $10 million for community schools.
  • Investing in Innovation – This program is funded at $142 million, same as last year.
  • Carol M. White Physical Education Program – This program, which provides funds for school and community physical activity programs, is funded at just under $75 million, the same as last year.
  • Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) - The bill includes $2.36 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which provides grants to states for child care assistance to working families, and to otherwise improve the quality of child care programs. This is a $154 million increase over the FY2013 level. These funds will support child care assistance, including afterschool school-age care, for an estimated 22,000 additional children and their working families.
  • Youth Mentoring Grants – These grants, available through the Department of Justice, are funded at $88.5 million, approximately the same level as last year.
  • AmeriCorps State and National Grants – The bill funds these programs at $335 million, up from the post-sequester FY2013 level of $326 million. AmeriCorps VISTA was funded at $92.364 million.
  • STEM: The bill contains a strong statement rejecting the Administration’s STEM reorganization plan, with language directing the White House to seek stakeholder input on a new proposal. The bill provides $846 million for the National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources Directorate, about $15 million above the current spending level.

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Federal Policy Update: House passes 21st CCLC Coronavirus Relief Act

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House appropriators propose substantial increase to 21st CCLC afterschool funding

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State tackles learning loss with new law on summer & afterschool STEAM engagement

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Two new Community School bills introduced in Congress this fall

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New York City Council considers move to universal afterschool

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BY: Chandler Hall      01/30/20

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